School may or may not be in session but bullying can have no limits. In this area you will learn how to create a nurturing environment, how to identify a bully and what the current anti-bullying laws are in your state. Make sure you're ready to communicate and enforce your policy - before an incident happens.
Be Prepared for the School Year Ahead
Put Your Anti-Bullying Policy Into Action
Bullying affects kids in schools of every size and in every part of the country. Today, 49 states have anti-bullying laws in force (see policies and laws in your state). In many cases, there are policies that specifically spell out how to deal with the problem. But it's also important that your school has its own policy in place - and that you enforce it. Doing so can make a meaningful difference in a student's personal and academic life.
3 Areas You Should Cover in Your School's Anti-Bullying Policy
The problem is real and it affects schools of all types and sizes. The good news is there are steps you can take to make sure bullying doesn't become a serious problem at your school.
BUILD A SAFE ENVIRONMENT
The best place to begin your anti-bullying campaign is in the classroom. Start by setting expectations and reinforcing the rules. Here are a few key areas to focus on:
Monitor Hot Spots Around Your Room and in the Hallways
Bullying often occurs in areas where adults are not present, like hallways, bathrooms, playgrounds and buses. When a teacher or adult is present, students feel safer, and bullying is less likely to happen.
Promote Open Communication
Let students know that they can, and should, speak up. And if they see bullying, they can ask the kid who is being a bully to stop. As long as they feel safe, they should try to be "up-standers," not "by-standers." If they don't feel safe, they should tell an adult. Here are 10 things kids can do.
Start a "No Bullies" Group
Many students do step in when they see bullying. But a school-sponsored peer advocacy program gives them a more formal process that identifies, trains and supports a designated group of students who will watch out for other students who have been bullied.
Every situation is different, but bullying behavior has some common characteristics you should watch for, including:
A bully harasses his or her victim each time they are together.
- Imbalance of Power
The student being bullied always loses because the bully is physically bigger, stronger or more aggressive.
- Harmful Intent
The target of bullying is genuinely afraid because the bully has threatened him or her.
You should also look for other signs that someone has been a victim of bullying. Typically they become withdrawn, grades start to slip and they decline to participate in recess or other activities. For more warning signs, click here.
Also, you'll often hear that bullying is "part of being a kid." It can even be seen as acceptable in some parts of our society. There are many misconceptions that only serve to enable the behavior. To see some of the most common misconceptions, click here.
An anti-bullying policy only works if it's put into action with the right groups of people. To effectively deter bullying, there are four groups of people you'll need to target:
Ask students to get active. A good way to get them involved is to form a "Bullying Prevention Committee." Typically these groups include a student, a teacher and a parent. It's a great way to spark a conversation about bullying within the school. Here's a planning guide you can use to get started.
Students will need the guidance and support of their teachers and the school administration to make their efforts successful.
Parents have the power to deter bullying, but they have to be engaged in activities with students. Research shows that parents are often the last to know when their kids are bullied or being bullies.
Open communication between your school, students and the community will help facilitate a culture of trust. Nowhere is that more important than when students leave campus. For students who are targets of bullying, the bus ride home can be the worst part of their day.
Ask bus drivers to introduce themselves to the children and learn their names. If the driver can establish a rapport, students will feel more confident reporting bullying to an adult.
Many states today are taking positive steps to deal with bullying. While this is a good start, each school needs to communicate its anti-bullying policy to the students, parents, teachers and staff members. And most importantly, the policy has to be enforced.
The ultimate goal is to have the entire school community pull together and take a stand so that, one day, bullying at school will be a rare occurrence rather than a regular event.
You can learn more about bullying prevention by visiting the resources below
If you have specific questions or need help with bullying prevention, call our Risk Control Consulting and Research Center at (800) 554-2642, ext. 5213, or email firstname.lastname@example.org